What Is "Normal" Skin Exactly, and Does Anyone Really Have It?



A couple years ago, when esthetician Renée Rouleau determined I was a #6 combination skin type using her nine-part diagnostic skin type test, I felt like I suddenly understood an important part of my identity. I was in the combo-skin club, and along with my fellow members, I could lament the trials of having both dehydrated skin and clogged pores while dry skin and oily skin types could bond with their respective club members and exchange advice about what products work best for them. It's great to have allies in the quest for problem-free skin. However, among the main skin types, there has always been one mysterious category whose club members remain so elusive to me that I wasn't even sure they existed: I'm talking about "normal" skin.

You see this phrase, "normal skin type," all over the world of skincare: on product packaging and instructions, in articles offering skincare advice. And yet, as common as it is to read about "normal" skin, I don't know a single person who identifies this way. Plus, since "normal" is a subjective word, not a descriptive one like dry or oily, you have to wonder: What is "normal" skin anyway? Is breaking out or getting dry patches not "normal?" If it isn't, does anyone really have "normal" skin? And either way, does this skin type perhaps deserve to be renamed?